Healthcare reform, in general, is aimed at improving the healthcare system of a specific country and making sure that it offers its citizens what they need. Being healthy is an integral part of living a good and happy life. If we cannot be healthy and live happily, something is wrong.
It often happens that policies and systems have to change as the world changes, people change, and technology develops. There will always be change and the challenge is for governing policies and systems to keep up and address issues before they become a problem. Healthcare reform is especially important.
Broad aims of healthcare reform in any country:
Before we get into the specifics of healthcare reform in the United States, let’s have a look at the broad aims that you can expect from healthcare reform in any country.
- Wider access – Allow more people access to healthcare, especially those who didn’t have access before. Also, allow easier access to specialists.
- More healthcare providers – Widen the range of healthcare providers that patients can choose from without increasing costs.
- Improve quality – Improve the quality of healthcare services across the board to allow for a healthier population.
- Reduce costs – Bring down costs of healthcare and make it affordable for all citizens.
How the Affordable Care Act Affects You
When the Affordable Care Act was passed, many changes took place within the healthcare system. These changes are good and will definitely serve Americans better than the healthcare system did before. However, even with all the talk and explanation of the Act, many people don’t really understand how it will affect them. So, today, I would like to share a few of these changes and explain what they mean.
- The age at which young adults must leave their parents’ health insurance has changed. Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. This remains true if they are students, live at home or not, and are married or not. This is a great change because of the cost of living and the cost of loans. The incidence of students moving back home after school is increasing. This is simply because it is too expensive to live alone while paying off study loans and finding a job.
- No-one may be denied coverage. This is one of the greatest changes to come from the Act. People who have previously been refused coverage because of pre-existing health conditions can now apply again and they may not be refused, by law. All insurance companies must sell insurance to and cover anyone who wants insurance This is definitely going to help thousands of people struggling with chronic diseases that have gone untreated.
- If you don’t carry some type of health insurance, you will be penalized. This is one of the more controversial changes and states that everyone must carry some form of health insurance otherwise they will pay penalties when tax season comes. This also affects companies who employ more than 50 people and don’t offer its employees health insurance.
- Health exchanges will be established in every state. This means that there will be an insurance marketplace in every state in the United States. This is very helpful because it will allow those seeking insurance to compare what different companies are offering and make a decision on which plans and prices will suit them best. This will be privately run so there can be no influence from any one specific insurance company.
- Federally-Funded program Medicaid will see many changes. Medicaid has been confusing people for a long time. It is a federally-funded health insurance program that offers cover for certain people at cheaper rates. However, the primary care doctors that treat the Medicaid patients have always been paid very little for their services. One of the big changes that the Act will bring about is paying these doctors higher rates when they see Medicaid patients.
- Insurance companies can no longer cap or limit annual benefits. When it comes to day-to-day health issues, these limits are not a problem. However, when you are in an accident or get diagnosed with a chronic disease, your benefits can run out quickly. This is quite a big change that influences insurance companies and offers patents a sigh of relief.
- The way in which doctors are paid will change. In the past, doctors were paid according to the number of procedures that they performed. After the Affordable Care Act took effect, doctors are paid according to the quality of their care and the health of their patients. In other words, doctors are now paid based on how healthy their patients are and how they perceive the value of the service that was offered.
- Health insurance companies have to supply a standard disclosure form. When a person wants to buy health insurance, they must be given this form to help them understand what the insurance company offers and what the costs are. The form must contain information about the benefits, coverage, deductibles, copayments, etc. The form must also indicate the cost different health conditions that may come up in future, for example, for diabetes treatment, having a baby, etc.
Health insurance and the healthcare system are confusing and difficult to navigate at the best of times. With healthcare reform, this can be addressed and made easier for patients to understand. Patients have often found themselves in a situation where they had no more insurance and tons of bills simply because they did not understand what they were getting into.
Hopefully, the changes that the Affordable Care Act has brought about will help make things easier to understand and the whole process of buying insurance much simpler. These changes definitely seem like good things, but we never know how it will work out until it has been put to the test. These changes to the healthcare system are definitely in line with the general aims of healthcare reform.